COVID-19

Metro Manila, 38 other areas to enter Alert Level 1 in March

Sofia Tomacruz
Metro Manila, 38 other areas to enter Alert Level 1 in March

COMPLIANCE CHECK. Quezon City authorities check vaccination cards of commuters on the first day of the Department of Transportation's 'no vaccine, no ride' policy on January 17, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

The government looks at Alert Level 1 as the 'new normal'

MANILA, Philippines – Metro Manila, along with 38 other areas throughout the country, will see coronavirus restrictions downgraded to the loosest level on Tuesday, March 1, nearly two years after the pandemic shuttered the Philippines.

Metro Manila, 38 other areas to enter Alert Level 1 in March

Acting Presidential Spokesperson and Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made the announcement on Sunday, February 27, saying the government’s coronavirus task force approved placing the capital region under Alert Level 1 from March 1 until March 15.

The relaxation of quarantine restrictions comes as COVID-19 infections in the Philippines continue to decline, with nationwide case numbers staying below the 2,000 range in the past week. 

Officials had been eyeing to shift the metropolis to Alert Level 1 sometime in December 2021, but were forced to delay the economy’s further reopening after the highly contagious Omicron variant drove a record surge in infections.

Under Alert Level 1, establishments and public transportation are allowed to be fully operational. There are also no restrictions in place on the movement of people from different age groups, though this is subject to specific rules that may vary among local government units.

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Along with Metro Manila, the following areas will be on Alert Level 1 beginning March 1: 

Cordillera Administrative Region

  • Abra
  • Apayao
  • Baguio City
  • Kalinga

Ilocos Region

  • Dagupan City
  • Ilocos Norte
  • Ilocos Sur
  • La Union
  • Pangasinan

Cagayan Valley

  • Batanes
  • Cagayan
  • Santiago City
  • Isabela
  • Quirino

Central Luzon

  • Angeles City
  • Aurora
  • Bataan
  • Bulacan
  • Olongapo City
  • Pampanga
  • Tarlac

Calabarzon

  • Cavite
  • Laguna

Mimaropa 

  • Marinduque
  • Puerto Princesa City
  • Romblon 

Bicol

  • Naga City
  • Catanduanes

Western Visayas

  • Aklan
  • Bacolod City
  • Capiz
  • Guimaras

Central Visayas

  • Siquijor

Eastern Visayas 

  • Biliran

Zamboanga Peninsula 

  • Zamboanga City

Northern Mindanao 

  • Cagayan de Oro City
  • Camiguin

Davao Region 

  • Davao City 

For any area to be downgraded to Alert Level 1, all of the following conditions need to be met:

  • Low to minimal risk case classification 
  • Total bed occupancy in hospitals is less than 50%
  • At least 70% of the target population are fully vaccinated
  • At least 80% out of 85% of senior citizens are fully vaccinated

Health experts earlier cautioned that vaccination thresholds set at 80% of the elderly population and at least 70% for the general population are not nearly enough to protect health systems against the weight of future surges. Booster uptake, aside from the first and second doses, should also be taken into account when deciding to relax restrictions in light of Omicron, they added.

Meanwhile, the government placed the following areas under Alert Level 2 until March 15:

Cordillera Administrative Region

  • Benguet
  • Ifugao 
  • Mountain Province

Cagayan Valley

  • Nueva Vizcaya

Central Luzon

  • Nueva Ecija
  • Zambales

Calabarzon

  • Batangas
  • Lucena City
  • Quezon
  • Rizal

Mimaropa 

  • Occidental Mindoro
  • Oriental Mindoro
  • Palawan

Bicol 

  • Albay
  • Camarines Norte
  • Camarines Sur
  • Masbate
  • Sorsogon

Western Visayas

  • Antique
  • Iloilo City
  • Iloilo province
  • Negros Occidental

Central Visayas

  • Bohol
  • Cebu province
  • Cebu City
  • Lapu-Lapu City
  • Mandaue City
  • Negros Oriental

Eastern Visayas 

  • Eastern Samar
  • Leyte
  • Northern Samar
  • Ormoc City
  • Southern Leyte
  • Tacloban City
  • Samar

Zamboanga Peninsula 

  • Isabela City
  • Zamboanga del Sur
  • Zamboanga del Norte
  • Zamboanga Sibugay

Northern Mindanao 

  • Bukidnon
  • Iligan City
  • Lanao del Norte
  • Misamis Occidental
  • Misamis Oriental

Davao Region 

  • Davao de Oro
  • Davao del Sur
  • Davao del Norte
  • Davao Oriental
  • Davao Occidental

Soccsksargen

  • General Santos City
  • North Cotabato
  • Sarangani
  • South Cotabato
  • Sultan Kudarat

Caraga

  • Surigao del Norte
  • Surigao del Sur
  • Agusan del Norte
  • Agusan del Sur
  • Butuan City
  • Dinagat Islands

Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao

  • Basilan
  • Maguindanao
  • Sulu
  • Tawi-Tawi
  • Cotabato City
  • Lanao del Sur

Below are guidelines for what’s allowed and what’s restricted under the given alert levels.

– Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.